Burials

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3. Exclusive Right of Burial

You can buy the Exclusive Right of Burial for a grave in our cemeteries. As the owner of the right you can decide who is buried in the grave, and you also have a right to be buried there. It does not give you any ownership of the cemetery land or grave space itself.

If you purchase the right we will give you a document called the Deed of Grant for an Exclusive Right of Burial, which names you as the owner.

Do I have to buy the Exclusive Right of Burial?

No. You can choose a burial in an unpurchased grave. In this case you only pay for the burial, but there are some things you need to know if you choose this type of burial:

  • we will still own the grave rights and could use it for other people who want a burial in an unpurchased grave
  • you may not be able bury another relative in the same grave
  • you cannot place a memorial on an unpurchased grave

How long does the Exclusive Right last?

The Exclusive Right can be purchased for 30 or 50 years, with the choice to renew at the end of this time. Different arrangements apply to gardens of remembrance for ashes.

Can more than one person share the right? 

You can share ownership with a number of people. All owners must agree if a grave needs to be opened for a burial and if a memorial is placed or altered. When one of the owners dies, the rights are shared by the remaining owners. Only the last surviving owner can pass on the grave rights at their death.

Can I transfer ownership of the right to someone else?

Yes, contact us and we will send you a form. Please see cemeteries fees and charges for transfer costs.

What happens if the owner of the right dies?

The owner has an automatic right to be buried in the grave, but after their burial the grave cannot be opened again until the right has been transferred to a new owner.

If the owner has included the right in their will, the executor of the will needs to contact us to arrange a transfer to the new owner.

If the right is not included in a will, the new owner can make a statutory declaration (a statement witnessed by a solicitor). We will then send out a new Deed of Right.

The new owner can place or alter a memorial once they have been given memorial rights. If this right was held by the previous owner of the Right of Burial it will be transferred automatically.

Can I still use an old family grave if the owner of the right died years ago?

Contact us and we will work out how to transfer ownership. You may need to show us the grant of probate or a copy of the will. If you do not have this paperwork you can make a statutory declaration.

Ownership is the family's responsibility and we cannot accept a booking for a burial without an owner. This means you should contact us as soon as possible - don't wait until you need to arrange a funeral.

What if I can't find the Deed of Grant?

If you are the owner of the right we can send you an official letter to confirm this. If you inherited the right we can help you with the transfer process and then send you a letter to confirm the transfer. A grave cannot be opened without the Deed of Right or an official letter.

Can I reserve a grave ahead of time?

Unfortunately due to the ever increasing pressure on available space at Higher and Exwick cemeteries we can no longer offer advanced reservations on Lawn or Edwardian Graves. You can however still reserve a Lawn Burial plot at Topsham cemetery or an ashes plot in any of our Gardens of Remembrance.

What if I inherit the right to a grave that I do not wish to maintain?

You may give the right back to us at any time. Please contact us on 01392 265707 or email bereavement.services@exeter.gov.uk to arrange this.

Please inform us of any change of address

As an owner of the right to a grave you are responsible for telling us if you change address. If there is a problem with the grave or memorial and we can't contact you, we can act to put the problem right. If there is a cost for taking action we may ask you to pay us back before you can make any new burials.